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The Ukrainian military is taking credit for an explosion that may have killed hundreds of Russian conscripts in far eastern Ukraine in the first minutes of the new year. The Russian Ministry of Defense confirmed the veracity of these reports on Monday, but announced only 63 deaths.
Officials in the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” part of Ukraine that Russia was illegally annexed in Septemberexpressing general outrage at the attack, blaming Moscow for assembling so many soldiers in one place.
Both sides say the strike took place in the suburb of Makievka, east of Donetsk, a major Ukrainian city that has been under Russian control since 2014, but details of what exactly happened are sketchy. Western journalists cannot enter the region and therefore rely on Russian and Ukrainian sources for information.
The attack likely set a record for Russian casualties in a single attack in the war so far.
Local social media channels in the Donetsk region reported huge explosions at exactly midnight on New Year’s Eve. By Sunday afternoon, videos of the devastation had emerged, including one that appeared to show bodies and a pile of rubble where a vocational school once stood. Online investigators quickly geolocated and verified the videos.
“The school was a well-known Russian garrison, going back to 2014,” Oleh Zhdanov, a senior Ukrainian military analyst, tells NPR.
“[Since February]Most of the Russian soldiers were scattered across the front, but when Ukraine noticed reservists gathering in one place, they took action.
On New Year’s Eve, the Ukrainian Strategic Command published a satire note On the official Telegram channel about “Santa stuffing body bags with 400 corpses”.
Russia offers a rare admission of battlefield losses
The news sparked outrage among the pro-Russian leaders in the separatist region.
“I can’t blame Ukraine. The real killer is the son of blame who made our fighters easy targets,” to publish Alexey Sokonkin, an influential blogger in Russian-occupied Ukraine.
Russian state news agency TASS Blame Mobile phone data of soldiers to inform the location of their barracks to Ukrainians.
Igor Girkin, the former defense minister for the breakaway Donetsk region, shared similar sentiments online, and claimed to have visited the site of the attack.
“The number of dead and wounded reaches several hundred,” he said.
Finally, on Monday, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a dossier statment Accusing Ukraine of using the American supplied HIMARS missiles to carry out the attack. The public statement provided a rare acknowledgment of battlefield losses.
The Ukrainian General Staff followed the Russian announcement making sure attack, though it did not specify the suspected number of casualties or the weapons used.
“It takes a long time to know how many people die in an attack like this,” Zhdanov said. “But we can have a general feeling.”
Such attacks are likely to stoke unrest in Russia
The apparent attack on Makievka came just days after Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, encouraged Russian men of military age to desert or protest the war.
“As this war continues, your personal chances of dying will increase,” he said.
When the Russian media began reporting the devastation, Russian citizens enlisted their relatives stationed in Makevka. Student To find out if they are among the dead.
Military analyst Oleh Zhdanov says such strikes are likely to continue to fuel unrest inside Russia, where anti-conscription demonstrations were held last summer.
“There certainly will be Another fill soon“So the Russians underestimate their losses because they are afraid of mass resistance,” Zhdanov says.
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